Hard Days– when will we sleep?

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I’ll begin with this photo. Sibling love at it’s best. When Thibault is not pulling Flora’s hair out and Flora is not trying to exclude Thibault from one of her activities, there is true love here. I love finding these moments when they don’t think I’m looking where Flora is so tender and caring towards her brother and Thibault is just happy that Flora is interested in him. He truly idolizes her and loves it when she reads/sings to him, plays a game with him, jumps on the bed together or hide on the covers. It is a beautiful thing to witness.

I’m writing this first because we’re experiencing some hard days. Last Sunday Flora got really sick with a high fever and a stomach flu. It was a rough 3 days for her, but she was a champ and we were hoping that it had already passed through Thibault. Jaap and I both had to miss work last week. In addition, I had to miss another half day to take Thibault to the hospital for one of his pre-op appointments before the he gets his surgery to get tubes put in his ears. It was a lot to juggle. And now comes this past weekend and Thibault has a fever and is working through the stomach bug. Thankfully I was in Den Haag for the entire day on Saturday and Jaap took care of the kids. And for me personally, it was a difficult week for me (for reasons I won’t post here).

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When you put it all together, some days I feel like we’re hanging on by a thread. The sleep situation is horrible, awful, no-good! I don’t even know how to describe it. And not just because my kids are sick (that definitely makes it worse), but because my kids just suck at sleeping! I blame myself, Jaap, our inability to try and make a plan/change and stick to it, long term breastfeeding, lactose intolerance— whatever I can to make myself feel better! I just wish I could sleep more. I look about 10 years older than I actually am. It’s awful.

This is where having two kids as opposed to one child is really killing me. At least when Flora was little, Jaap and I could alternate sleep easier and get by. Even though we still alternate sleep on days that we can (meaning one person can sleep in a extra hour or two)— we’re still completely exhausted. My definition of a good night sleep is so far off! It’s ridiculous. I feel like I’m in the trenches right now and looking for some good news around the corner.

What will that good news be? Maybe being able to wean Thibault from breastfeeding? I must dedicate a post to this. Maybe some more self-care time for the both of us? Relief when my Mom comes to visit? The girls weekend coming up in 12 days (but who’s counting?). I don’t know. I don’t even know how to resolve or end this post. I’m struggling, Jaap is amazing—he keeps this family together, and wish I could sleep for 100 years. On that note— I refer back to the first paragraph of this blog post. My children know what love is and they love each other. For now, this thought will help me through these tough days. It’s certainly not enough. Mama needs some more self-care. But, on these hard days like today—I’m getting back to basics.

Whew! What a day.

 

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What a week! Thank God it’s almost vacation, Jaap and I have 48 hours alone in Den Haag (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and I’m drinking a delicious coffee right now. It’s been quite a week! Wednesday pushed me to the brink of Mommy insanity. Thibault has been having some weird nights. Up for two hours (?!?!?!?) in the middle of the night, crying a lot, being somewhat hysterical in the morning. I don’t get it. I’m starting to see more and more how frustrated he is from not being able to communicate with words. (We’re starting speech therapy in two weeks and I’m already relieved that it’s finally happening).

Wednesday was a morning full of drama, lots of tears, refusing to get dressed, refusing to get a new diaper on, refusing to sit in the car seat. Oh, and I had to teach music at playgroup. So–it was a shitastic day!

So after Thibault’s nap (which was a little bit shorter than normal) we had time for an outing. Of course Flora was resistant, but I decided I was not going to let the mood of a five year old ruin my momentum. We went to the kinderboerderij for some outdoor play and animal therapy. Feeding the goats, petting some sheep, looking at all the animals playing, and taking a turn on the speeltuin put everyone at ease. I felt much better.

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On hard days like these, my moment of zen is listening to Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman, my female journalist hero, alone in my kitchen while preparing dinner. Even a moment of zen involves multi-tasking, but at least I was alone! My crying children were with Jaap (my other hero) and I had time to sip some wine in peace.

Mother Son Bonding

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Thibault and I started taking Contakids together on Wednesday mornings. He loves it and I’m so happy him and I have this bonding time together. So much of his life is based around Flora’s activities, playdates, and interests. Flora and I took a dance class together when she was two and I wanted to carry this on again with Thibault. He absolutely loves it. Running around, jumping on Mom, riding me like a horse, dancing with scarves. He’s such a little monkey. It’s good fun for the both of us and the atmosphere is cute and cozy with all of the parents and kids eating fruit together afterwards.

I’ve been going to playgroup for three years straight now and I noticed last year that for some reason it was becoming a little stressful for me. I can’t say that Thibault particularly enjoyed what was happening there. He was always trying to get into things who couldn’t play with, run out of the building, or play with things that were dangerous. Meanwhile, socializing with other parents was my priority. So, to change things up a bit and have a healthy activity (that I don’t have to help out with) seemed like a good way to go. I’m still helping out with Playgroup a little bit and volunteering for the music class, which is important to me, but I’m happy to start something new with him.

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Friday Brunch

A few weeks ago, Flora and I had a Friday morning brunch, just the two of us. Thibault was at the creche having missed several days from Carnaval and the girls had some down time. I feel so relaxed when Thibault is not around. That sounds awful, but it’s true. I’m grateful for these peaceful moments where I’m still hanging out with my family, but not struggling. A little moment of zen here at Piece of Cake.

How cute is Flora’s admiration for her hot chocolate? We ate pancakes, scones, and took a stroll through Museum aan het Vrijthof. What a fab morning!

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My day ended on a high note— cocktails with the Mamas! This was supposed to be a Cosmopolitan, but my New York self thought otherwise!

 

Tis the season to be tired…

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The holiday season is here and our house is full of love and exhaustion. My kids are kicking my ass. Between waking up multiple times a night, waking up at 5:00 a.m., ear infections, teething, and the need for being held constantly— we are struggling!

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Despite these hard times we are being festive and continue to enjoy being home for the holidays. Yet again we weren’t able to make it to the Cologne Christmas market and not even Aachen with the kids this year, but there is still a lot of joy!

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Sinterklaas & Pakjesavond!

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Making winter villages with Flora

Birthdays and Good-byes

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Flora & Madelynn

The worst part of living abroad is when the friends you have made move on to their next adventure. Whether that be moving to another part of the Netherlands, a new country, or back home. It’s always the hardest part. Now that Flora is older and has real friendships, she is going to go through it now too.

Yesterday was her friend Madelynn’s 4th birthday party. I became friends with Madelynn’s mother through playgroup three years ago. These two girls have always loved playing together and they truly are close friends. We’re so sad to see them leave. I can see that Flora understands what a friend is now and she knows that she won’t see Madelynn again for a very long time. She told me she’s sad and we talked about it. Big feelings here! I can’t believe how grown up she is and how she was able to articulate this. On the bright side, they are very young and these thoughts and conversations don’t last long before she is on to the next idea or activity. Nonetheless, it’s still sad. Probably it’s more sad for me because I’m also losing a good friend and a fun mom to hang out with who just happens to be America. We always had things to talk about! But, I’m sure our paths will meet again. The great thing about living abroad is that you have friends and love in many different places.

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Fun at Dartledome

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Lazy Saturday morning

My Little Adventurers

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My little man. A curious little guy who is looking for adventure, things to touch that he shouldn’t, and things to put in his mouth that are dangerous. If Thibault could walk, he would run. I love his curious little spirit. I wish that he liked to play and do things that were less dangerous. His new favorite thing is turning on these lights on our nightstands. IMG_5596

It has made our Friday outings a little bit more challenging. He isn’t content sitting in the stroller watching the world go by. He needs to be out there exploring, touching, climbing, crawling, and playing with his sister. A lot of parents say they dread the stage where they learn to walk. I find this interesting. I loved when Flora learned to walk. It gave her so much more freedom. I predict by Christmas Thibault will be walking. He’s ready for it and I’m excited that his world is about to open up even further.

I love this photo. Flora has recently learned how to slide down ropes and fireman poles at the playground. She’s so happy that she has learned this skill. Everyday that I pick her up from school she says, “Mom, can I show you something?” She runs over to the climbing apparatus on the school playground and shimmies down the pole. She’s so proud of herself.

Finding a place where they can both play can be a challenge, but Thibault has finally graduated to playing at the speelhoek in Coffeelovers. This little corner is perfect for his age. But the best part is watching my kiddos play while sipping my favorite Maastricht coffee. A win for Mom!

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